Engineering Economic Analysis for Automatic Grading of Florida Citrus

W. M. Miller, G. P. Drouillard

Abstract


Automatic grading has been implemented commercially in Florida to a limited extent. However, some packers have been hesitant to adopt such technology because of the large capital expenditure. An analysis was undertaken identifying key economic factors to consider by packinghouse management. Various scenarios were developed for the capacity of a large packingline, 1.2 x 106 carton/yr. Three levels of manual grading reduction were considered. For automatic grading, various capital expenditure levels were evaluated as well as savings in fungicides and waxes. Maintenance and operating costs were incorporated in addition to throughput limitation in manual grading for fruit lots of very low packout. With respect to labor, number of graders replaced by automation was incorporated as well as inclusion of a skilled operator necessary for automated equipment. For a $400,000 expenditure, an 8 grader reduction yielded an equivalent 5-year cost projection. A 14 grader reduction would be required for a high level $800,000 capital outlay. Translational speed requirements were developed for various roller spacings considering the need to run multiple varieties of different sizes. For tangerines, linear speed was calculated at 2.2 to 3.6 x that of equal box capacity of grapefruit.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283